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Into the Unknown: Science Fiction at The Barbican

A genre-defining exhibition of art, design, film & literature is due to take place at the Barbican Centre from Saturday 3rd June – Friday 1st September, 2017. An exploration of one of popular culture’s most celebrated realms, this unprecedented show takes place all over the Centre, encompassing literature, contemporary art, film, music, comic books and video games, presenting a new, global perspective on Science Fiction. SEEN can’t wait, having grown up on the work of Arthur C. Clarke, Ursula Le Guin, Octavia Butler and J.G. Ballard.

Curated by Swiss historian and writer Patrick Gyger, this festival-style exhibition explores Science Fiction as an experimental genre, delving into its storytelling roots to discover how its visionary creators captured imaginations around the world, to become one of the most popular and enjoyable narratives today. Featuring work never before shown in the UK, the show places rare and iconic pieces alongside familiar, well-loved classics, next to new contemporary art commissions, hoping to surprise and challenge visitors’ perception of the genre.

The exhibition includes over 200 books from around the world, including original manuscripts and typescripts, contemporary art commissions and existing art works, over 60 film and TV clips, featuring some of the most memorable cinematic moments in Science Fiction as well as rare, hitherto-unseen footage, pulp magazines, adverts, concept art, film props, comics, video games and robots.

Patrick Gyger, Curator, said: ‘Science Fiction is responsible for some of the world’s most iconic film, music, literature and art. Today, the interaction between digital, virtual and physical spheres further blurs the boundaries between it and our current reality.’

The exhibition continues all over the building, in the foyers and in the Pit Theatre. There will be film screenings in the cinema, a pop up outdoor cinema on the Barbican’s sculpture court, music performances in the Barbican Hall, as well as a public programme of talks and events in partnership with New Scientist and Penguin Classics. In the Curve Gallery, the exhibition takes visitors on a journey through strange lands, dystopian worlds, and virtual universes in four chapters

Extraordinary Voyages explores man’s fascination with the undiscovered, unknown and inaccessible areas of planet Earth, where Science Fiction narratives first took root, looking at mysterious islands, lost worlds, voyages under the sea and in the air.

Space Odysseys, the largest section of the show, looks at the narratives most commonly associated with Science Fiction: space travel, the moon, alien contact, foreign planets and other worlds.

Brave New Worlds explores spaces and societies that mankind has created for itself, from future cities with gigantic skyscrapers, vast underground networks and the highly organised spaces of dystopian worlds to disasters, wars, the apocalypse and the end of the world as we know it.

Final Frontiers looks at inner realms to question our own existence in the universe. This section explores identity, the transformation, augmentation and mutation of the body, including cyborgs, mutants, clones and robots; Artificial Intelligence and dimensional rifts including time travel, parallel worlds and alternate dimensions.

Alongside film clips, books, pulps, adverts, comics, posters and games, the Barbican presents both newly commissioned and existing contemporary artworks.

A new commission by British artist Conrad Shawcross uses light, movement and sound to create an installation that will take over The Pit theatre space. The Barbican has also commissioned US Artist Trevor Paglen. His kinetic sculpture Prototype for a Nonfunctional Satellite is a prototype for an actual spacecraft that could be launched into low earth orbit and will hang prominently in the entrance to the Barbican foyers. Other contemporary artworks include Palestinian video artist Larissa Sansour’s film In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain, which fuses Science Fiction, archaeology and politics to explore the role of myth in history, fact and national identity.

Three short films will be screened in the foyers:
Afronauts by New York writer Frances Bodomo, inspired by the true story of the short-lived Zambia space programme in an imagined alternative history of the 1960s Space Race. Pumzi (Breath in Swahili) by Kenyan film director Wanuri Kahiu. An Afrofuturist short film, set in a post-apocalyptic world where water is scarce, it follows one scientist’s quest to find life and grow seeds beyond the confines of her repressive subterranean Nairobi community.

Into the Unknown: New Scientist at the Barbican
Barbican is partnering with New Scientist on a series of talks to explore the ideas behind Science Fiction.

Into the Unknown: Penguin Book Club
Barbican is partnering with Penguin Classics on a series of book club events, each focusing on an iconic title from the genre. Editors, authors and literary journalists will discuss sci-fi favourites: The Island of Dr Moreau, H. G. Wells; Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell; Frankenstein, Mary Shelley and A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess.

Barbican Outdoor Cinema
25 -27 August 2017, Barbican Sculpture Court

The first Barbican Outdoor Cinema will take place on the estate’s Sculpture Court in the shadow of the Barbican’s dystopian towers and will host a specially curated Science Fiction programme over August Bank Holiday weekend. Echoing themes from Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction, the programme includes Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey,  Steven Lisberger’s Tron  (1982) and Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity (2013).
A series of screenings of SciFi cult films from around the world will take place every other Sunday during Summer 2017. Titles will include: Piotr Szulkin’s  O-bi, O-ba: The End of Civilization (Poland 1985) – a restored version, in association with the Polish Cultural Institute;  Richard Fleischer’s Soylent Green (USA 1973); Ikarie XB-1 (Czechoslovakia 1963, dir. Jindrich Polak) and THX 1138 (USA 1971, dir. George Lucas). Tickets for all cinema events will go on sale in Spring 2017

Jeff Mills: Life to Death and Back Again 8 June 2017 / Milton Court Concert Hall / 7.30pm
Jeff Mills: The Fantastic Voyage 9 June 2017 / Cinema 1 / 7.30pm
Jeff Mills: Light from the Outside World 10 June 2017 / Hall / 7.30pm
Jeff Mills: Planets 12 June 2017 / Hall / 7.30pm
Ticket prices: £20–35 plus booking fee
Produced by the Barbican

American techno pioneer Jeff Mills presents a series of innovative conceptualised events entitled From Here to There, which marry electronic music with symphonic sounds and other art forms. The project features three UK premieres alongside a return of Light From The Outside World, which sold out at the Barbican in October 2015.

Ben Frost & Daníel Bjarnason: Music for Sólaris
29 July  2017 / Hall / 7.30pm
Ben Frost and Daníel Bjarnason’s collaboration takes its inspiration from Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1973 sci-fi film Solaris. Frost and Bjarnason’s compositions include the futuristic atmospheres and pulses associated with sci-fi soundtracks. The music will be performed with a video accompaniment by Brian Eno and Nick Robertson.

There’s so much to see and do in this exhibition, and it’s the perfect location for Science Fiction events; the Barbican Centre and the Estate have a unashamedly sci-fi aesthetic. If you do one thing this summer, let it be this.

STAR WARS (US 1977) CARRIE FISHER, right YOU MUST CREDIT LUCASFILMS
Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction Film Still, Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope (US 1977). Courtesy the Roger Grant Archive.
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY [BR / US 1968]
nto the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction Film still, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968. Courtesy the Roger Grant Archive.
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (US 1954) JAMES MASON, PAUL LUKAS
Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction Film Still, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (US1954) Courtesy the Roger Grant Archive.
Patinage de rigueur sur Gallia, la comète gelée, sur fond de bateaux pris dans la glace (sur des sortes de « crêtes de compression », ici sans doute largement exagérées, mais qui peuvent atteindre 5 m de hauteur… du moins sur Terre, lorsque la banquise se fracture). Illustration de Frank R. Paul pour « Off on a Comet » («Hector Servadac, Voyages et aventures à travers le monde solaire», 1877) de Jules Verne pour le 1er n° d'Amazing Stories, daté avril 1926. Il s'agit du premier numéro du premier pulp de science-fiction (magazine imprimé sur du papier de mauvaise qualité).
Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction Magazine cover, Amazing Stories (April 1926) #1, Agence Martienne, Courtesy coll. Maison d’Ailleurs / Agence Martienne.
5. Conrad Shawcross, Limit of Everything, 2010, Images courtesy of Conrad Shawcross Studio
Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction. Conrad Shawcross, Limit of Everything, 2010, Images courtesy of Conrad Shawcross Studio
7. Film Still, Ex Machina (2015)
Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction. Film Still, Ex Machina (2015)
Saturday 20th June 2009. Old Devils Peak Quarry, Table Mountain National Park (TMNP), Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. STILLS FROM WANURI KAHIU'S FILM 'PUMZI'! A series of stills photographs taken during the production of Wanuri Kahiu's short film, 'Pumzi'. Wanuri Kahiu, an award winning Kenyan Filmmaker, wrote and directed the film that was filmed entirely on location in the Western Cape, South Africa. These stills specifically were taken on various locations in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa during June 2009. The film is a futuristic work based on a devastated world without water and other precious commodities. The film, set in the Kenyan countryside, questions the price of fresh water, fresh air, fresh food and other commodities and revolves mainly around its central character, 'Asha'. The film also focuses on how to harvest moisture, energy and food in all their varied forms in order to supply the human food chain that depends on these life precious things for their ultimate survival. In the film, two friends, Asha and Wanja, are on an expedition looking for Mama Njoki, a woman known to sell intoxicating yet illegal produce. When they find her, she turns their lives upside down in an instant and gets them to question their lives and their own existential role in this world. Asha embarks on a personal quest that becomes her journey of self discovery and spiritual awakening. The film flows like its other character, 'Water', and leads us all to a realization that a world without water and a life without understanding and spirituality is absolutely no world and no life at all! PICTURE: MARK WESSELS. 20/06/2009. +27 (0)21 551 5527. +27 (0)78 222 8777. atomic7@mweb.co.za www.markwesselsphoto.com
Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction. Film Still, Pumzi, Wanuri Kahiu (2010)
9. Still, In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain, Larissa Sansour, 2016. Courtesy the artist.
Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction, Film Still. In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain, Larissa Sansour/Soren Lind, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Sabrina Amrani
10. Postcard On the first Lunar cosmodrome, Andrey Sokolov and Aleksey Leonov. 1968, Moscow Design Museum
Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction, Postcard On the first Lunar cosmodrome, Andrey Sokolov and Aleksey Leonov. 1968, Moscow Design Museum
11. Postcard An electronic brain of a distant world Andrey Sokolov. 1968, Moscow Design Museum
Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction, Postcard An electronic brain of a distant world Andrey Sokolov. 1968, Moscow Design Museum
12. Prototype for a Nonfunctional Satellite (Design 4; Build 4), 2013, Mixed media, Installation view, Courtesy of Trevor Paglen Studio
Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction, Trevor Paglen, Prototype for a Nonfunctional Satellite (Design 4; Build 4), 2013, Installation view, Courtesy of Trevor Paglen Studio
13. Film Still, Soda_Jerk, Astro Black, New Forms Festival, Vancouver, 2014, Photo by Robin Selk
Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction,Soda_Jerk, Astro Black, New Forms Festival, Vancouver, 2014, Photo by Robin Selk

www.barbican.org.uk

The Barbican Centre
Silk Street
London
EC2Y 8DS

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